Two years ago, our Early Learning Center began the journey into the Project Approach. Watching the excitement and engagement of the staff during the training process made me ask myself, “What will be one of the most important aspects to focus on as an administrator?” What I’ve learned is nothing extreme or mind-blowing, it’s simple… time. Of course, we never have enough time, and it always seems to fly by, but it is the key to success. The Project Approach is a great way to showcase the progress of student learning and achievement. Time to support teachers is essential. Here are a few strategies that I have found useful:
- Make time for teachers to individually share with you. Simply walk into their classroom and ask about their current project. “Tell me about what the students are doing?” or “Show me the progress of the students’ documentations.” This approach takes only a few minutes and shows the teachers that you are interested.
- Take time to share with colleagues. During your regular team meetings or faculty meetings, schedule time to share topics, plans, and student work. This type of collaboration is helpful both to new and experienced staff members.
- Keep in mind that teachers, at times, need guidance or assistance connecting with an “expert” for their project. Administrators are connected to the community. Use your knowledge to assist them in networking with community resources.
- Give teachers time to promote the projects to your families, community, district, and elsewhere. Have your teachers present their projects at board meetings, curriculum nights, and conferences. Arrange for coverage by the local newspaper or other media. This public recognition demonstrates your strong belief in and support of the program.
You may have finished reading my key points and said to yourself, “This information isn’t breaking news,” but it’s true. Sometimes administrators’ days fill up with one thing after another, and the importance of time escapes us. Remember that the power of learning through collaboration, support, and recognition goes a long way.
Vicki Larson, Principal
Verda Dierzen Early Learning Center
Please feel free to contact me with questions, or if you would like to share ideas with me.